I Wish I Knew How to Quit You, Buckaroo: Closing Seattle’s Best Biker Bar

Like Heath Ledger before it, The Buckaroo Tavern in the Fremont section of Seattle is about to meet its untimely demise. Being dead, Ledger—who can be seen playing pool at The Buckaroo in 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You—wasn’t able to stop the unfortunate, Greek tragedy-like chain of events that led to The Buck’s immanent shuttering: under-the-table real estate deals and heartless yuppies crushing the dreams of publicans, bartenders, and alcoholics alike. On September 17th, one of the last remaining true dive bars in the Seattle area will be closing its doors forever. This is a pity, because The Buckaroo is no poser biker bar, with t-shirts and silk-screened beer mugs for sale in the gift shop. It’s the real thing, a welcome throwback to times when Seattle was less upwardly mobile and gentrified. The bikes regularly parked on the sidewalk are not thirty-five thousand dollar Harleys owned by software designers, who bought a pair of leather chaps from HarleyDavidson.com for weekends. The Buck shines a grimy light on pretense, but does not exclude: Bikers, Vietnam vets, construction workers, college students, and, yes, software designers all frequent the bar, and do so in relative comfort.

The place, however, ain’t Applebees. On occasion, events have transpired that live up to The Buck’s legendary reputation as a hard-core dive bar. One night in the late nineties, while sharing a beer with a college chum of mine, I was treated to the greatest bar fight I have ever witnessed. Two drunken, black-leather clad, bearded bikers entered The Buck with great effrontery and belligerence. In doing so, they knocked a mild-mannered patron off his bar-stool, caring not one whit for the consequences. They should have, as the consequences arrived in the body of the mild-mannered patron’s pal, who was playing pool in the other room. A pal-to-end-all-pals, he burst into the bar area at full-speed, knocking down two other patrons in doing so, and lambasted both bikers while pushing them out the door and onto the sidewalk in about five seconds’ time. I distinctly remember the shorter, fatter biker yelling from the sidewalk where he was laying, “Come on out and kill us, then.” Shamed, the two would-be hell-raisers mounted their bikes and rode away. Pal-to-end-all-pals, who was wearing brown mechanic’s coveralls, apologized to the people he knocked down, bought them beers, and returned to his game.

Owner Donna Morey asked (ironically or seriously, I don’t know) that I not photograph the bathrooms when I went to take pictures of the soon-to-be-comet-struck dinosaur. So I didn’t, but it’s a shame, as they tell a lot of the story. A trip to The Buck’s bathroom is like a ride on a shoddy county-fair roller coaster operated by a toothpick-shaped carny with more tattoos than teeth. It ain’t pretty. Keep your extremities as close to your person as possible and be glad when you return to your loved ones. It is, after all, a waste-receptacle, and one shouldn’t squander time there peering into the smoked-glass mirror at your beautiful mug in a place like The Buck. Do your business, get out, and have another beer.

image

image

This place has funk, and over the last 72 years, The Buckaroo has been serving a wide variety of beers (25 on tap, 39 bottled; categorized as either “cheap” or “good”) as well as popcorn to a wide swath of Seattle’s populace, 365 days a year, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, when they serve potlucks for regulars. For decades, people have called this bar home. More any other tavern in the Seattle area, the Buckaroo has built a respectable following of regulars and devotees. It isn’t a place to be seen. It isn’t a place to meet girls. It’s a place to go when there’s little in the fridge and you’re hankering for a beer. The bartenders are always friendly, and the clientele diverse. Although frequented by many that might be considered ruffians, The Buck seems to have a calming effect on nearly everyone, as if creating a ruckus here would be akin to pissing on your own mother’s favorite rug. It’s dusty, and the Adam’s Family pin-ball machine has been shoved over by the bathroom for decades. You wouldn’t bring your mother-in-law to The Buck the first time she came to Seattle, but you sure as shit would go after you’ve dropped her off at the airport.

From the bar’s sign, a neon cowboy atop a bucking bronc, to the carved-up wooden benches, to the bent pool cues, to the drugstore zinc and vinyl stools, every square inch of The Buckaroo is Seattle dive-bar history. A history that is about to come to an end. Get there before it does. After twenty-five years of ownership, Donna Morey has committed the final week of Buckdom to a seven-day, every-ounce-must-go beer removal festival, promising to open again, this calendar year, in a new location. “I’m going to scrape the paint off the windows,” she declared, vowing to leave nothing for the building’s new owners that so much as smells of The Buck. And smell it does. Washington State has only been “smoke-free” for ten years, but the linger remains. Stale beer and ancient tobacco and the offal of generations. Oh, sweet dive bar! She has the support of the people as evidenced by a massive grass-roots “Save the Buck” campaign. Over the last three months, the campaign has been voicing the story of The Buck’s demise in local alternative newspapers such as The Stranger and Seattle Weekly. But the effect has been minimal, and, for a few more days, anyway, Donna still has her legendary spot on the corner of 42nd Street and Fremont Avenue — and thousands of dedicated drinkers.

4201 Fremont Avenue North Seattle Washington 98103 (206) 634-3161 buckarootavern.com

12 Cool Ways American Cities Are Helping The Environment

As conventional wisdom would have it, city governments are usually too calcified by stubbornness and bureaucracy to really change the world. But, together with nonprofits and activists, many American cities have imagined novel ways to reduce pollution and help make society more sustainable. Here’s a look at a few places, from New York and Los Angeles to Anchorage and Braddock, that have found creative ways to tidy up their corners of the world.

1. Braddock, PA: Home of America’s Coolest Mayor: At a hulking 6’11”, 340 lbs., with a shaved head, tattoos and biker-gang facial hair, John Fetterman does not look like a politician. But in 2005, the economically decimated rust-belt hamlet of Braddock, an eastern suburb of Pittsburgh, elected him mayor. By one vote. Fetterman has since become something of an international urban development celebrity, using his own funds to repurpose abandoned buildings and throwing his ample weight behind carbon caps and green technology, which he believes will eventually revitalize the town’s workforce. Because of Fetterman, many progressives have fled big cities to join the Braddock Renaissance.

image

2. Seattle, WA: Letting Goats Do the Dirty Work: The land of coffee and drizzle has been recognized by the National Resources Defense Council as the “greenest city” in the States. Over 90 percent of its power comes from hydroelectric plants. But even around these stations, berries and shrubs grow that are toxic to most living things, except goats. So Seattle puts the hoofed scavengers on grazing duty, and everyone wins.

image

3. San Francisco, CA: Veggies on the Mayor’s Lawn: Before Barack and Michelle spawned the White House garden, San Francisco’s famously progressive mayor, Gavin Newsom, was a powerful spokesman for the urban gardening movement. Along with the over 17 percent of the city classified as “green space,” the Newsom Administration and the nonprofit group Garden for the Environment have established edible gardens all over the city. That includes City Hall’s front lawn, which every summer transforms into a vegetable patch.

image

4. Portland, OR: The Yellow Bike Program: Starting in 1994, environmental activists in P-Town released America’s first “community bikes” into the streets. Basically, if you saw one of them (painted road-sign yellow), you could ride it to your destination and leave it there for someone else to claim. The program was a huge PR success, but eventually deteriorated at the hands of theft and vandalism. Since then, similar programs have been floated in Portland and elsewhere, but none have been nearly as simple or as radical.

image

5. Boston, MA: Taking Back the Trash: Beantown has big plans for its refuse. Currently, it has blueprints for a plant that would turn 50,000 tons of leaves and yard clippings into municipal power and fertilizer, harnessing the power of anaerobic bacteria. Future plans also include creating power from household garbage. Now, if they could wrangle enough goats to clean up Fenway Park.

image

6. Chicago, IL: Taking It to the Roof: Mayor Richard M. Daley is, without a doubt, controversial. But, if Chicago’s recycling program has remained experimental at best, the City With Big Shoulders has excelled in at least one area on Da Mare’s watch: rooftop gardens. Chicago has 2.5 million feet of them—more than all other American cities combined—including one atop the building everyone in Chicago still calls the Sears Tower. The best view of the Windy City may well be from a helicopter.

image

7. Fort Collins, CO: Cleaning Up With ZILCH Loans: Credit is tight in America, but not necessarily in Fort Collins, Colorado, home of Colorado State University and the Balloon Boy, and consistently ranked among Money magazine’s “best places to live.” Fort Collins provides zero-interest “ZILCH” loans for sustainability-minded home-improvement projects, including solar heating, water efficiency upgrades and high-efficiency washing machine installation. Even for a lefty college town, Fort Collins walks the progressive walk.

image

8. Anchorage, AK: The Frontier By Moonlight: Like the rest of Alaska, Anchorage spends much of the year buried in snow. And, as anyone who’s braved an Alaskan winter knows, when the moonlight hits the white stuff, it’s practically as bright as day. Thus, during the winter, Anchorage dims its streetlights, letting its citizens find their way around the way nature intended. It also boasts dozens of parks and even a halfway decent public transit system.

image

9. Oakland, CA: Not the Usual Public Transportation: Like its neighbor across the water, the O relies heavily on mass transit, and has initiated one of the most ambitious bus programs in the country. Oakland is slowly replacing its fleet with hydrogen-powered buses, each of which spares the city 130 tons of carbon-dioxide emissions annually. To boost the new fleet’s street cred, the city runs the buses on special, highly visible routes.

image

10. New York, NY: Harnessing the Tide: We’ve all heard of deriving power from the force of the winds. But what about the ocean? It’s got some muscle behind it, so why isn’t it pitching in? In New York City, it might soon be. In an area of the East River off-limits to large vessels, the city is currently testing “tidal turbines,” 16-foot rotors that will, if the experiment works as planned, power a supermarket and garage.

image

11. Boulder, CO: Earth Hour Happy Hour: The World Wildlife Fund’s “Earth Hour” experiment, a polite suggestion that businesses and households turn off all electric power for one hour on the last Saturday in March, hasn’t been around for long. But denizens of the crunchy college town of Boulder already take it pretty seriously. The city officially participates, along with four others in Colorado. And local businesses provide candlelit happy hours with live music.

image

12. Los Angeles, CA: Keeping the River Alive: LA is not a noted hub of environmental progressivism. The once-mighty Los Angeles River, which runs from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach and was once the city’s largest water supply, is now 80 percent paved, often runs in a trickle and endures as little more than a punchline. But the ambitious nonprofit Friends of the Los Angeles River (http://folar.org) wants to change all that. Beyond staging cleanups and fighting to hold the city and county accountable for the river’s health, the group aims to eventually bring back clean water, wildlife, and even canoeing. Say what you will: LA dreams big.

image

5 Best Things About Sasquatch

I’ve given myself a few days to sober up, wash off the dirt, and let it all sink in—and I’ve come up with a conclusive list of what makes Sasquatch! Music Festival at The Gorge, arguably Washington’s most picturesque outdoor venue, a memorable, unique, standout festival experience. After speaking with Adam Zacks, who’s been organizing the annual event since 2002, I was curious about the “spirit of the Pacific Northwest” that he referenced repeatedly. Now I think I get it. The folks who attend Sasquatch! are genuinely passionate about music and new bands and not necessarily there for the rage factor. Check out further proof in the gallery of best Sasquatch! fashion statements after the jump.

1. Lack of Pretension. From the moment we drove in, it was pretty obvious that this was not an overly polished affair. Without the glam of Coachella or the over-population of Bonnaroo, Sasquatch! is a bare-basics kind of festival. And unlike the press area at ACL (vendors out the wazoo and free beer), at Sasquatch! it’s just a port-a-potty and a few picnic tables packed with artists, journalists, and organizers schmoozing and eating Sun Chips.

2. Location. The view from the mainstage looks out over the Columbia River cutting through the Cascade Mountain Range, with spectacular sunsets and skyscapes as the backdrop for shows. The drive to The Gorge on I-90 from Seattle, reminiscent of a Swiss mountain pass, runs through foggy forests and Snoqualmie Pass, with snow capped peaks in the distance. Overheard at Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros: “I thought Edward Cullen was going to magically appear out of the forest.”

3. Friendly Factor. Unlike most festivals, where the general mindset is ‘Every Man for Himself,’ here it’s more of a communal concern. People don’t push in line (really), and everyone LOVES high fives, but not in a frat-tastic, douchey manner. People are just generally welcoming. When we told new friends that we were from New York, everyone first asked if we drove (never) and then expressed general shock that people really come out from New York for the festival. And then to toast us on our voyage, many a beer was purchased in our honor.

4. Lineup. For a smaller festival of only 3 stages, the level of talent was pretty remarkable. Standout acts in my opinion were Mumford & Sons, The Lonely Forest, Vampire Weekend, LCD Soundsystem, Deadmau5, Dirty Projectors, The xx, Band of Horses, and Passion Pit. Most of these sets were great partly because of the level of crowd enthusiasm and the fact that any show on the mainstage was flanked by HDTV Discovery Channel-worthy scenery.

5. The Campgrounds. Granted, I’ve never before camped at a festival so I have nothing to compare to this experience. That said, the grounds exceeded my expectations by a long shot. The walk from festival entrance to campground was a bit of a hike, but it was scenic and not dusty. There were sinks at each campground site near the wall of port-a-potties. We were also situated atop lush grass. For the rebels, you could sit on the top of your car and hear bands playing at the mainstage. Not too shabby, even for an amateur camper.

Industry Insiders: Adam Zacks, Attack of the Sasquatch!

Adam Zacks is the man behind the curtain at Sasquatch!, the annual music festival hosted at Washington’s ultimate picturesque outdoor venue, The Gorge. Founded in 2002 by Zacks, word of the event spread like wildfire through festival enthusiast subcultures around the country. This year, names like My Morning Jacket, Miike Snow, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Mumford & Sons, LCD Soundsystem, Public Enemy, The xx, Ween, MGMT, Band of Horses, The Temper Trap, and Neon Indian helped sell out 3-day passes for this Memorial Day weekend, when Zacks is expecting 75,000 festival visitors. More on what differentiates Sasquatch! from the rest of ’em after the jump.

First show Zacks saw at The Gorge: I think it was Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell triple bill.

On what makes Sasquatch! so special, as compared to other festivals: What differentiates it is the location. It’s not something you can replicate easily. The programming is really representative of the spirit of the Pacific Northwest and I don’t think that’s easily recreated either. It has as much to do with the bands we book and the mix of bands as it does with the people that come out for it. There’s a real, legitimate subculture of people that exist really just in the Pacific Northwest, and this is a kind of beacon event for the whole scene. It’s a spirit and an attitude that exists unique to this area. It’s friendly, creative, laid-back, and enthusiastic about music – new music in particular. There’s this ecology of things that exist up here that really encourages listening to new music and there are a number of strong, independent labels. It’s a great live music market year around.

On the second year of the festival: I went in with a lot more confidence the second year knowing that there was an audience for this type of event. I had more support to get creative and have a stronger vision, and I was thinking forward about what I wanted this to grow into. The second year of the festival is really more representative than the very first. Coldplay headlined. The Flaming Lips, Modest Mouse, Neko Case and Death Cab. Damien Rice ended up playing at what was essentially the parking lot stage. It was just a stage that entertained people on the line as they were coming in. Damien Rice, Brandi Carlile, all these artists that have gone on to do bigger and better things were playing in the parking lot stage that year.

On the best compliment he’s received: A lot of people say that they look forward to it year around. If it’s raining for three months straight in Seattle or if they’re at their jobs and stressed out, they’re thinking about and planning for Sasquatch! year-round. Now that the festival’s been around for nine years, the brand’s taken on a meaning outside of the festival. So, as terms like “indie rock” become stale and not really descriptive – I’ve heard “Sasquatch! type band” used as a descriptor. Maybe it doesn’t do anymore to clarify what type of music a band plays, but it means that there’s a place in culture for Sasquatch!.

On green initiatives: We’ve been building on and improving the green focus each year. It’s taking an incremental leap this year. One of the stages is solar powered and the rest of the festival is wind-powered. We work with an agency that comes out with a calculation for all the people and artists who drive out there and that’s how we come up with the carbon calculation. We buy offsets for carbon being emitted in the atmosphere. So, not only is it not having a negative affect on the environment, it’s actually making a positive impact. This year, Honda is covering the costs of the carbon credits and they will go towards funding projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions on dairy farms in the Pacific Northwest.

On keeping the neighbors happy: It’s remote farmland area out here. There aren’t many residential areas, but there are people who live out there. For the most part, 99.9% of the people are super psyched because it makes up for most their revenue during the year. There are also some people who have been out there forever and ever and The Gorge is a nuisance for them, but they’re few and far between. Maybe, it’s two people that are upset by it every year.

Tips for first-timers: The majority of people will stay at the festival campground. It’s a big, grassy field with some amenities. There are bathrooms and some no-frills showers. Basically, it’s car camping on a grassy field. You need to bring everything that you think you might need. Even if it’s 90 degrees during the day, it still cools down a lot at night. It’s rained a little bit in years past. One year, there was actually a power-lock hail storm out of the blue. Right afterward, the clouds parted and it was 90 degrees. During the storm, we just opened the gates and allowed people to come and go freely and do whatever they needed to do to be safe and get warm clothing. People hid under picnic benches.

On the 10-year anniversary in 2011: There’s been a stockpile of good and bad ideas. We talked about doing a fireworks show, but that’s a bad idea. There’s no way that I’m aware of to do an environmentally-friendly fireworks show. Also, it’s really dry out there and the last thing I want to do is set a fire to someone’s farm. For the most part, we’ve said, let’s hold off on things for the 10-year anniversary. Next year’s our year to go off and I won’t go into detail about what that is yet.

On feeling starstruck: The Cure and REM were the soundtrack of my adolescence. If you’d told me back then that I’d be doing a festival with them one day, there’s no way that I would have believed that. They both played in 2008. Every year, there are a couple celebrities that come out…nothing like they have at Coachella where it’s just like a celebrity fest. So, when they do come out, it’s just weird. It feels out of place and people generally just leave them alone and don’t know what to do. People aren’t really star struck. They’re just kind of like, “Oh that’s weird.”

First album ever purchased: If I’m being honest, I think it was Sesame Street Fever. The one I remember clearly buying was a cassette of David Bowie Let’s Dance. I have a pretty clear memory of saving up and going to the store and getting that from Warehouse Records and Tapes.

Go-to places: There’s this amazing, super authentic Mexican restaurant in Seattle called Señor Moose Café. I drove by and avoided it for years, based on the name and the snoopy cartoon frog they had on their sandwich board sign. Then, I finally went there and it’s by far the most badass Mexican in the city. Sonic Boom Records is my go-to record store. There’s Caffe Fiore and Stumptown, my two favorite coffee joints. The Crocodile is probably my favorite small club.

Patiently waiting to see: I really get excited for people to discover new bands. Local Natives aren’t exactly a secret anymore, but they were at the time I booked them. Mumford and Sons, The Lonely Forest, The Middle East. In a couple years, I think these bands will be on the main stage.

Photo: Chase Jarvis

15 Best Airports for Wi-Fi

Wireless internet service at airports is becoming more rule, less exception. Google has embraced the holiday spirit by distributing free Wi-Fi at 47 U.S. airports until January 15, 2010. And several airlines have begun to offer wireless service on board flights, ensuring that jetting won’t hinder your daily routine of stalking your exes on Facebook. In a recent survey by American Airlines and HP, 47% of business travelers indicated that Wi-Fi was more valued than food during their flight. People are looking to stay connected with the outside world, especially while in transit. While many airports now offer wireless, some are better at it than others.

1. Philadelphia International Airport – Check your Gmail while scarfing a cheesesteak — free wireless for diners within the food courts. Current students also have the privilege of free Internet access if they show their IDs at the Airport Information Counter. And on Saturdays and Sunday, wireless service is free for everyone. Outside of the airport, Philly once had plans for covering the entire city with wireless, until Earthlink dropped out of the agreement due to economic complications in February of 2008.

2. Phoenix Sky Harbor – No, it’s not a mystical village in a “Final Fantasy” game, but its connectivity is free and completely real. In 2005, Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon launched a free airport wireless project. Since then, Sky Harbor has never looked back. The signal is strong on both ends of the security checkpoint, near the shops, and at many of the gates. Given that both the mayor and city council collaborated on this project, residents hope that a citywide connection could soon be in the works.

3. Portland International Airport – Portland International Airport has free wireless within 70% of its complex, including some spots outside of secure areas. Users can log in with a VPN (Virtual Private Network) if top-secret info is required for their profession. Furthermore, the airport offers ample power outlets throughout its facilities, making it an ideal location for web surfers. But outside of the airport, Portland has become more disconnected. Recently, the city lost its free MetroFi wireless service due to financial complications.

4. McCarran International Airport – Feeling down after losing big in Vegas? Rest assured, McCarran Airport is there to lift your spirits (or at least give you the opportunity to continue gambling online). With seating and electrical outlets galore, McCarran is #3 on Forbes’ list of “Top Most-Wired Airports.” In addition, there are various free Wi-Fi hotspots within the city itself, distributed throughout shops and restaurants.

5. Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport – Way back in December 2003, Ithaca’s Tompkins Regional Airport was distributing free wireless through Clarity Connect services. Nowadays, Wi-Fi can be accessed anywhere within its terminals free of charge, no strings attached. For those hapless enough to leave their laptops at home, computer workstations are available with 15 minutes of free access near the café and gift shops.

6. JFK International Airport – While most airports of JFK’s size are rather stingy when it comes to Internet service, JetBlue’s 6th terminal offers free Internet access. This section of JFK is relatively new, having reached completion a little over a year ago on October 22, 2008. The new Wi-Fi section is consistent with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plans to increase connectivity throughout the city’s public areas.

7. Eastern Iowa Airport – Cedar Rapids- Free Internet is distributed throughout the Cedar Rapids airport thanks to Dynamic Broadband, which also delivers its services in parts of the Midwest, ensuring that the farmlands can easily be connected to the country’s urban centers. If you’re web-hungry enough to pull out your laptop while taking a ride, public buses around the airport offer Internet access to their riders as well.

8. Honolulu Airport – Pacific-bound travelers may find themselves at this intersecting crossroads of the States and the Orient. It may take some scouting, but Gate 13 at the Honolulu Airport offers free Wi-Fi. Those in the know say that you can also successfully “mooch” a signal near the Continental President’s Club and Northwest World Club across from Gate 12.

9. Denver International Airport – Jeppesen Terminal’s A, B, and C concourses distribute Wi-Fi in the vicinity free of charge. The city itself has its own share of free Wi-Fi hotspots in its busiest centers. As of April 17, 2006, the 16th Street Mall and Skyline Park of downtown Denver offers free Wi-Fi, thanks in large part to the city’s nonprofit Downtown Denver Partnership.

10. Louis Armstrong International Airport – Although this Louisiana airport is still trying to reach its original pre-Katrina service capacity, it has maintained free Wi-Fi in concourses A, B, C, and D. Originally, state laws prohibited the use of free broadband, but the city circumvented this ban after the state of emergency declared in Hurricane Katrina’s wake. With the state of emergency lifted, several groups like BellSouth moved to shut down the free service. Earthlink stepped up with a $15 million planned investment to take over the city’s service and build a network within a 15- to 20-mile radius. As of 2008, the Earthlink project was dead … but given current trends, there may be hope for its revival.

11. Harrisburg International Airport – For passengers, free access is as simple as selecting or typing “SARAA” as their preferred network. Left your laptop behind? Not a problem. The Harrisburg Airport offers plenty of Internet kiosks within its facilities, where you’ll be able to forward cute cat pictures before catching a red-eye. The city itself had aspirations for free Wi-Fi coverage as early as 2003 for 2nd Street and the Capitol complex. Unfortunately, logistics stymied these efforts, and they were put on hold.

12. San Antonio International Airport – Travelers can pick up a decent (and most importantly, free) Wi-Fi connection throughout most of the airport’s terminals. In 2007, the San Antonio City Council approved a plan to build a municipal wireless network throughout the city’s downtown areas, thanks to aid from AT&T.

13. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport – Sea-Tac is offering free wireless for the holiday season until January 15, 2010 (compliments of Google). Furthermore, the Port of Seattle is hoping to extend these benefits beyond the January 15 cutoff. We think that this is an appropriate plan for a place ranked #1 on Forbes’ “Top 30 Most-Wired American Cities”.

14. Orlando International Airport – With free Wi-Fi hotspots located within its parking lot and public areas, Orlando makes flight delays bearable. The city itself is ranked number four on Forbes’ “Top 30 Most-Wired American Cities” due to the high percentage of homes with high-speed Internet access and high Wi-Fi hotspots per capita.

15. Mineta San Jose International Airport – The NorCal vs. SoCal Wi-Fi debate rages on throughout the state of California. While there may be no clear winner, San Jose certainly gives NorCal a boost, thanks to its prestigious history as home to some of the world’s largest tech companies. As of May 30, 2008, Mineta San Jose Airport has offered free Wi-Fi services to travelers coming through the South Bay. Terminals A and C have excellent Wi-Fi offerings, with the exception of their baggage claim areas, which are currently dead zones.

Atlanta Toxic, and Not from Real Housewives

Forbes trotted out a “Most Toxic” survey, and proudly crowned Atlanta the Queen of Dirty, with Detroit coming in as runner up (can they ever be the best at anything?), and Houston, Chicago, and Philly rounding out the top five. And by “toxic” they don’t mean backstabbing and trash talking, so unfortunately they’re not referencing NeNe, Kim, Lisa, Kandi, or Sheree. Instead, the survey focuses on air quality and the amount of toxic chemicals released into the water and air in the metro areas. Atlanta takes the top spot because of its dirty immediate neighbors — Forbes is quick to point the finger at Sandy Springs (holla Sheree!) and Marietta.

While the Atlanta metro area takes top honors for toxicity, don’t blame the city alone. The Atlanta metro includes the cities of Sandy Springs and Marietta, the sites of chemical plants, metal coaters and concrete factories. The cities have toxic-release levels equal at or higher than those Atlanta, in spite of populations that are 15% and 13% the size of Atlanta’s, respectively.

The least toxic city award goes to surprise winner Las Vegas. Clearly they aren’t grading based on the toxicity of residents. Despite the Strip and the strippers, Vegas is actually the winner in terms of air and water quality. Other big cities that made the top ten include Austin, New York, Seattle, and Phoenix. Check out the full list here.

Seattle’s Street Food Supremacy

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was transferring onto trucks — those oversized vehicles meant for transporting cargo like furniture and sex slaves — the qualities of gourmet eateries. There’s a new generation of trucks roaming the streets and hugging the curbs of America, dishing out culinary configurations normally reserved for gourmet eateries. Take for example New York’s very own NYC Cravings, a shifty little bugger that buzzes around the city selling their special brand of Taiwanese fried chicken to the hungry masses, or the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, which serves up more innovate takes on the classic treat (wasabi-dusted softies!) ) than most storefront parlors. Those two, along with nine others, will be duking it out this weekend at the Vendy Awards in Queens, where New York’s next-gen street merchants do battle for culinary superiority. But no matter how celebrated and plentiful New York’s food trucks may be, there’s an unassuming metropolis on the other end of the U.S. who is the lucky beneficiary of three food trucks that are pushing the mobile munchies limits, and could probably roll right through the five boroughs and cook the competition. Welcome to Seattle.

Seattle isn’t known for having cutting-edge eats, especially not in trucks that themselves are pretty unconventional. But here are three food trucks which we highly recommend to road trip it over to NYC, and spend the weekend parked in front of our apartment. We’ll split the gas.

Maximus/Minimus: This giant pig-shaped vessel — a kind of DIY bovine Transformer — harkens back to Dumb and Dumber‘s infamous dog van, but instead of carrying two semi-retarded sweetie pies, it carts around simple-yet-elegant pulled pork sandwiches. The name represents the crucial choice you must make: do you want your sandwich maximus (a spicy six-pepper blend) or minimus (more sweet, a melange of tamarind, honey and molasses)? The side of slaw is tossed in a spicy vinaigrette, and the veggie alternative is a hodge-podge of roasted onions, fennel bulb and mint. But then again, if you’re a vegetarian, you probably shouldn’t be ordering lunch from a giant pig truck.

image

Skillet: There is absolutely nothing like it in New York. Served out of a reconfigured 1962 Airstream trailer are old favorites with inventive flourishes; take the Thai chile burger (a grass-fed Kobe patty topped with lemon grass and ginger bacon jam, pickled cucumber, feta, mustard greens) or the fennel sage burger (with fennel sage bacon jam, arugula, melted provolone, tomato marmalade), and NY’s craze-to-be, poutine. And yes, their bacon jam is a trademark item, so much so that they’ll ship it to you, anywhere.

image

Marination: Anything that calls itself “Seattle’s sauciest food truck” is an automatic winner. The marriage between Korean and Mexican food has long been a staple of L.A.’s famous Kogi truck, but this slick truck takes Korean classic and infuses them instead with a Hawaiian twist. Their SPAM slider (the unofficial national food of Hawaii is topped with their signature coleslaw and slider sauce, while their Kalbi (tender short-ribs marinated in all sorts of saucy goodness) is a must-try. Kimchi quesadillas are folded over jalapenos and kalua pork, and the tacos can be stuffed with innovative meat options like the ginger tofu chicken.

image

Celebrate the End of National Art Hate Week

This week’s end also marks the end of another week — National Art Hate Week. Schemed up by English artist/Tracey Emin ex Billy Childish for some abstract pseudo-existential reason that no one, perhaps even Childish himself, can pinpoint, perhaps National Art Hate Week came at a serendipitous time, to commemorate the death of Dash Snow, a passing that has inspired probably some niches to develop at least a distaste for art until their next multimedia messiah floats down. So let’s cast away the curmudgeonly ghost of Stuckist past and figure out who’s showing what and where.

In West Hollywood, Kopeikin Gallery debuted “Eisbergfreistadt,” a collaboration between Nicholas Kahn & Richard Selesnick. And it picks out a relatively obscure moment in history, singling out a 1923 incident where an iceberg drifted into the Baltic sea and ran into a German port. The show itself features photographs of live stagings where K&S re-created the historical moment using miniature scene models, costumed people, and props. The exhibition is ongoing until August 22.

Also exhibiting through August 22 is “The Splendour of Fear,” a gothic-tinged group show of six artists at The Michael Benevento Gallery. Artists include photographer Sigmar Polke and media artist Cerith Wyn Evans, whose contribution includes a prominent, if delightfully kitschy neon rose.

In New York, Shinique Smith presents her first solo show at Chelsea’s Yvon Lambert, “Ten Times Myself,” a mix of paintings and sculpture inspired in equal parts by Abstract Expressionism and Japanese Calligraphy; similarly palpable is her influence from both street and salon art. This show ends on July 31, though.

Meanwhile, at The Bronx’s Bronx River Art Center presents a show which seems to just be the latest in apocalypse art: “Black Gold.” It features the work of Malaysian artist Tattfoo Tan and Bronx-based artist Abigail DeVille in a show that recontextualizes jewelry and explore the politics of oil money through the lends of urban decay.

And because good art is never exclusively bicoastal, Seattle’s Cullom Gallery features “The Summer Ephemera Show” in its latest rotation of Japanese prints until the end of August.